Breaking Up Just Got Easier
Cast: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston
Directors: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek
Running Time: 82 minutes
Synopsis: Fifteen years ago, Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) discovered they were being two-timed by the same man. Bitter and cynical they became fast friends and formed The Breaker Upperers, a small-time business breaking up couples for cash. Now they're in their late-thirties and business is booming. They're a platonic, codependent couple who keep their cynicism alive by not getting emotionally involved with anybody else. But when they run into an old victim, Mel develops a conscience and their friendship is truly put to the test.
The Breaker Upperers
Release Date: July 26th, 2018
Directors' Vision – Jackie Van Beek And Madeleine Sami
This is a modern comedy about love – both romantic and platonic. We feel proud to have made a contemporary female-driven comedy that reflects the multiculturalism of the city we live in. The Film's Story
In many ways, we feel this film gives us a voice in the ongoing conversation about 'what is love?' and 'what do women want?'.
Although we are both die-hard fans of the rom-com genre, we have grown tired of being constantly told that a reproductive heterosexual relationship is the answer to happiness. We look around our community and see so much love flying about in so many different forms that we want to celebrate love that defies this old-fashioned concept.
The two women in our story are extremely cynical about love. They have been hurt and don't feel that love is worth the pain. Jen and Mel have withdrawn from the world and are living in a co-dependent bubble in which they have no regard for other people's feelings and consequently are protected from any negative emotion.
Over the course of the film, Mel and Jen's faith in love is restored but it is an acknowledgement that love can be found in the strangest places. It was important for us that this story paints a more realistic world in which we are all hunting out special connections and navigating our way through these relationships as best we can. The biggest love story of this film is, of course, the friendship between Mel and Jen.
The comedy of Jen and Mel's outlandish, immature and delusional behaviour works best when placed in the real world. Improvisation has played a big part in the film – a process that both of us love and have used a lot in the past on our independent projects. We believe our best work shines through when we approach it with a healthy mix of preparedness and spontaneity. We hope you enjoy and find escapism in Jen and Mel's wo-mance.
Jackie happened upon the idea for the film as she was standing in her kitchen making a cup of coffee. She found herself reflecting on all the conversations she'd had with friends about the challenges of extricating yourself from a relationship that you know isn't right for you. "I mean we've all been in relationships that we know need to end but it's often hard to muster the energy or courage to call it quits. Breaking up with people isn't fun" Jackie van Beek says.
Taking the idea a step further, van Beek imagined a world in which you could pay someone to do it for you. She then conceived of a service that could do just that…
"I thought 'wouldn't it be funny if we had a film with two females doing something really morally ambiguous'. 'What if they were getting paid to break up couples, if that was their job, how they made a living," Jackie van Beek continues.
Jackie Van Beek took the concept to fellow comedian, actor and friend Madeleine Sami in 2013 who loved the idea and the pair began working on creating a script for the film.
"I just loved the idea that two women whose strongest relationship is their friendship with each other," says Madeleine Sami. "Society puts on the expectation that we must all take a certain path but I hope that people that come and see the film and see that there are other paths to happiness, and that doesn't have to be with a man and kids."
The script was developed with Taika Waititi and Carthew Neal's company Piki Films over a series of workshops. With a script in play, Madeleine, Jackie and Piki joined forces with producers Ainsley Gardiner and Georgina Conder of Miss Conception Films to turn the project into reality.
"The project always comes first for us and The Breaker Upperers absolutely aligned with our goals for Miss Conception Films to make films by women for women with strong female protagonists," says Gardiner. "Working with Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek was a further drawcard."
Originally planning just to write and star in the film, the pair ended up making the decision to direct the film also.
"We were half way through the writing process and we were stuck with the question, who do we get to direct this? We'd seen friends Jermaine and Taika direct and star in 'What We Do in the Shadows' and thought we can do that too." says Madeleine Sami.
Having the lead actors also direct brought its own set of challenges. One that fell to producer Ainsley Gardiner.
"Both the directors have distinctive styles so working out the best way to support both was an exciting challenge. When one was directing and one acting it was straight forward, but when both were acting I had to step in more actively to make sure they were represented as directors."
With the film financed and set to begin pre-production the focus turned towards securing a strong supporting cast for the film.
"We had written the film for us to play and knew we wanted all our friends to take part in it, but there were still some characters that we didn't quite have" says Madeleine Sami.
The pair and script lured well-known actors such as James Rolleston as Jordan and Australian actress Celia Pacquola as Anna but their greatest find was in fresh acting school graduate Ana Scotney.
"Seeing Ana's tape was a revelation," says Madeline Sami. "She just exploded out of the audition tape and we knew she was the only one to play Sepa."
Gardiner had worked with actor James Rolleston before and was thrilled to find out he was to be involved in the project, his first after a year of recovery post a tragic car accident in 2016.
"I was so excited to find that the role of Jordan had been written with James in mind. It was really perfectly cast and allowed James to explore a more playful skill set. I felt grateful that I was able to be one of the people helping him to come back to acting after a really tough year" comments Gardiner.
The Breaker Upperers is a film with a lot of strong female roles, but it's not just on-screen that this is the case. Most of the key cast and crew are female (including Heads of Departments), with some job sharing between crew to allow time to work with their families and create this project.
Jackie Van Beek explains: "It was incredible to see these women who are at the top of their game join us to create this story. It was natural in a project like this to make even more effort than usual to make sure we had women in every role we could. We also made every effort to accommodate job sharing for some of our mums to achieve something of a work life balance," adds Gardiner.
Jackie Van Beek and Madeline Sami agree that The Breaker Upperers has been made as pure escapism and silliness.
"The Breaker Upperers is a great escape from daily life. In this film, you get to watch a bunch of characters do things you couldn't face doing yourself. I think there is a bit of Jen and Mel in all of us and I think audiences will recognise parts of themselves up on screen." Says Jackie van Beek.
The Breaker Upperers will have its world premiere at South by South West Festival in Austin, Texas, followed by a domestic release in New Zealand in May 2018.